Earlier this week, Grimes, the Canadian pop star who makes pretty good music that sounds like a computer fighting an elf, outlined the parameters of an ambitious training regimen on Instagram Tuesday. The program takes between four to seven hours, requires sword fighting and screaming, and seems to be a promotion for a shoe company and her upcoming album of which she said, “My goal is to make climate change fun (lol..??).”
It took a little convincing of my editor, but yesterday I was able to spend the day becoming powerful by training like Grimes. I followed her workout plan as closely as I could, given some financial limitations, and attempted to grow my brain so as to access higher planes of truth, or find whatever causes the mind to perceive Elon Musk as interesting and attractive. What follows is a step-by-step account of my attempt.
“I first maintain a healthy cellular routine where I maximize the function of my mitochondria with supplements such as NAD+, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Magnesium, etc. This helps promote ATP and it’s incredibly visceral.”
As anyone who knows anything about human biology would tell you, the mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell. To get fit like Grimes, I first had to obtain some mitochondrial doping products, so I rode my bike over to a local potion store identifying itself as an “integrative pharmacy.” They had everything I needed except for NAD+, which lifeextension.com says “facilitates youthful, healthy cellular energy metabolism and other systemic youthful functions.”
A helpful employee told me to settle for niacin or niacinamide, while also warning me about niacin flushes. I told her I knew what I was getting into, before I went outside and googled “niacin flushes.” It turns out that you blush or something! I thought it was a poop thing. Also, I purchased some kelp, because it was on sale and I thought it was funny.
I munched one of each supplement and got in the bathtub.
“From that point I spend 2-4 hours in my deprivation tank, this allows me to “astro-glide” to other dimensions - past, present, and future.”
Sensory deprivation tanks seem like the sort of unnecessary wellness bullshit that an alarming number of people in San Francisco own, but alas, this is either not the case or I don’t know the right people. All the available information on “astro gliding” points to it not as a brain expansion technique but rather as a butt tactic, so that one was not possible to perform across dimensions and timescapes.
A multi-hour float in an actual sensory deprivation tank was out of the budget for this experiment, so I recreated the experience in my bathtub, with an eyemask and earplugs to deprive some key senses. Here is a photo my girlfriend took of me before I put the earplugs in.
As I laid in the tub, I contemplated the past, present, and future. What was happening right before the Big Bang? What is the universe expanding into? Will the ultimate death of the cosmos end with the Big Rip, the Big Crunch, or the Big Freeze? It had only been half an hour. I couldn’t last two hours in there, so it was then time to fight with swords.
“In the afternoons I do a 1-2 hour sword fighting session with my trainer, James Lew, we go over the fundamentals that work the obliques, core stabilizes, and triceps as well as a few tricks.”
What makes an elite swordsman? According to some people on Quora, confidence and a good stance. According to a Deadspin editor with experience as a competitive fencer, “quick reflexes, good balance, and strong quads.”
Before I actually picked up my blade, I watched some YouTube videos on how to get a good solo workout in. Nate from BladeFit Academy explained three types of sword swings: the trebuchet, the underdog, and the kwando. I was ready to bisect my enemies’ frail bodies.
I do not own a sword, but I did have access to Golden Gate Park and its many hefty trees. After finding a heavy eucalyptus branch, I asked my editor if my sword was acceptable. He approved. I spent a full hour sword fighting: big overhead swings, parries, that thing where you extend a hand out in front of you and then angle the sword over your head parallel to your lead arm. I did it all while listening to Grimes’s 2012 album Visions, which I liked, as well as her recent single “We Appreciate Power,” which I did not like as much.
My arms were actually a bit sore, especially when I worked the triceps as Grimes dictated by doing some controlled over-the-head swings. To work the core stabilizers, I stood in a slight squat and performed cross slashes. To improve my footwork, I shuffled forward and backward while hitting side parries. To work on my balance, I did some swings while standing on a felled tree. To work my obliques, I flexed my obliques. I tried Link’s big spin-slash move and it felt really silly without anything to hit.
Two teens watched me going sicko mode on a tree with my blade; they definitely knew I was a fearsome, yet noble warrior. I cut the webbing of my left hand 45 minutes into the workout with the hilt of my tree sword, and it’s still a little fucked up.
“To wind down from this I spend 30-45 minutes on an inclined hike at roughly 4-4.5 miles per hour, arguably the most efficient workout.”
Did Grimes mean inclined up or inclined down? To play it safe, I did both, hiking up the tallest hill in the Inner Sunset at Grandview Park. Google Maps said I gained a few hundred feet of elevation, and I definitely broke a sweat on my way up here. I completed the 2.6-mile journey in 36 minutes, which is a pace of 4.3 miles per hour, so right in the sweet spot.
What does Grimes eat? According to her, she’s mostly a vegan but isn’t against bugs or lab-grown meat. I had an apricot, a carrot, some arugula, and a small portion of pasta. I also took another round of supplements.
I went to the gym and stretched every muscle I could think of. I did some yoga poses and sat in half-pigeon for a minute on each leg, which was cool.
“...where my mind and body are functioning at peak level, with a neuroplastic goal between 57.5 and 71.5 AphC’s (which is my preferred range for my blood type).”
Okay, here’s where things got tough to follow. All the search results for “AphC” pointed me either to articles about Grimes’s Instagram post or to the Appaloosa Horse Club, which was neat but not helpful. I don’t know if I have the same blood type as her, so I’m not sure if we share the same neuroplastic goal.
I decided to take this sentence as literally as possible. Experts say exercise is good for the brain, as is puzzle solving. The rock climbing gym seems like a perfect place to work my neuroplastics. Plus, the holds are made out of plastic. Close enough. I listened to an episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast to unlock my mind powers. My brain took on new wrinkles with every passing minute.
“I’ve outfitted my studio with the highest grade of red light. It is pretty much 1000 sqf IR Sauna.”
I went in the sauna for half an hour to get as close to the red light thing as I can, and also to make up for my earlier sensory deprivation shortcomings.
“Hana then comes over and we do a screaming session for 20-25 minutes while I slow boil the honey tea that maximizes vocal proficiency.”
The final element of this workout was arguably the most important. Grimes is a singer, after all. But where could I scream for almost half an hour without upsetting neighbors and passersby? My sword spot is pretty public, and my apartment is too close to other people.
I booked a private room at my favorite karaoke bar near Polk Street for an hour, since that’s the minimum duration allowed. My girlfriend, who came up with the karaoke solution, tagged along for the screaming session. I yelled my way through every middle school-era emo hit I could remember; we capped the brief visit off with “Shallow” from A Star Is Born. I had to do the Lady Gaga part because there’s a good screaming interlude. Sadly, this karaoke bar has no Grimes songs for me to butcher.
After 22 minutes, we went upstairs to pay, and the staff was baffled that we left 38 minutes on the table. Who comes in at 6:40 and leaves at 7:02 with the sun still high in the sky? Even though I assured the man behind the counter that I could expense it, he declined to charge me for my screaming session.
“I have also eliminated all blue light from my vision through an experimental surgery that removes the top film of my eyeball and replaces it with an orange ultra-flex polymer that my friend and I made in the lab this past winter as a means to cure seasonal depression.”
I wore sunglasses when I looked at the computer.
Before I worked my way through this intensive workout, I was but a scrawny blogger who knew not the way of the blade. Now, I am a scrawny blogger whose brain is on wavelengths of the eighth dimension and whose sword skills rival Inigo Montoya. There’s no way this is a real workout, since it takes basically all day if done to the letter.
My primary takeaways are as follows: Stretching for a long time actually feels great; early evening is not an acceptable time to do karaoke; kelp is bullshit; nobody in the forest respects you unless you have a real sword; the fabled niacin flush is “all talk”; the fox knows many things but the hedgehog one important thing; and my girlfriend was right to laugh at me for doing this, though she thought it was good that I got away from my blog machine for a day. I can never live like Grimes for real, but at least now I will be able to defend myself in a tree-branch sword fight.